Skip to main content

The term kinism was unknown to most people in the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA) until it became the subject of an overture to Synod 2019. In response to this overture, Synod 2019 declared kinism a heresy, but many in our denomination may still be left wondering: What exactly is kinism? Where did it come from? Is this something that our churches are actually dealing with? 

In response to these questions, the CRCNA’s Office of Race Relations has put together this brief document outlining five things all of us should know about kinism as well as ways to recognize and have conversations about it. 

The ideas and suggestions in this document would be excellent for discussing in adult education classes, intergenerational Bible studies, and youth groups. 

1. What is kinism?

Kinism is a movement that began in the early 2000s in the United States in some Reformed theological circles and churches. It espouses the belief that God has ordained separation of races in all areas of life. Quoting the theology of John Calvin, Abraham Kupyer, and Louis Berkhof, kinists believe that God, through Old Testament witness, rejected all interracial marriages. With this in mind, kinists would use the force of civil government to establish policies similar to apartheid in South Africa before 1994. 

2. What is the biblical evidence for kinists’ claims for racial separation? 

Kinists hold that God wanted to maintain distinctions. They look at Old Testament examples to demonstrate how God forbade interracial marriages between Israel and other nations, and they use this to justify the statement that God must also forbid interracial marriage today. Kinists use Genesis 1:25 and 11:7-9 to state that God mandated life based on kinship or relationships with people of “the same kind.”

Synod 2019 declared that this type of thinking is a heresy. It is incorrect to read these passages and say that God was concerned about ethnic background or skin color. Instead, the issue that God was expressing in these Old Testament passages was about keeping his people free of the detestable practices of other nations. Israel had to remain a faithful covenant partner to God alone and not be corrupted by their neighbors. In the New Testament, Christ broke down the wall of separation between Israel and other nations through the cross. For more information, see Acts of Synod 2019, p. 489-505.

3. Why do we need to refute the heresy of kinism?

The teachings of kinism sometimes exist in Christian Reformed churches. This teaching must be refuted because we, as Reformed Christians, believe that all people are image-bearers of God. We also believe that any type of hate and prejudice should be actively opposed by us as individuals and communally as a church. Consider, for example, these passages:

“You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander,and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:7-10).

“Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’” (Acts 2:5-11).

4. How did kinism come to light in the Christian Reformed Church? 

The overture that was sent to Synod 2019 resulted from a specific situation. A CRC pastor had been teaching and preaching kinist theology in his church for about a decade. Several attempts to deal with it through ecclesiastical means were used, but they did not stop the pastor’s actions altogether. In addition, the pastor made his perspective known through social media posts and the church website, publicly giving the impression of a tie between the Christian Reformed Church to kinist teachings. The pastor and his church have left the CRC, but during the deliberations of Synod 2019, several delegates gave testimony that the pastor was not the only one sympathetic to kinist theology. They commented they knew other CRC members who warmed to kinist ideas.

5. How do we refute kinism theologically? 

Synod 2019 declared that kinism is contrary to the CRCNA’s stated vision to be a diverse family of healthy congregations, assemblies, and ministries expressing the good news of God’s kingdom that transforms lives and communities worldwide. Here are a few sources that you could use to help you in thinking about a biblical response to kinism:

Biblical citations:

  • Matthew 1:1-17
  • Luke 3:21-38

From God’s Diverse and Unified Family principles (1996):

  • “The unity and diversity of the human race and created reality reflects the unity and diversity of the triune God.”
  • “A fundamental effect of sin is the breakdown of community.”
  • “Reconciliation with God and reconciliation with one another are inseparable in God’s saving work.”
  • “Already in the old covenant, the scope of God’s mission is racially and ethnically inclusive.”
  • “The church, in its unity and diversity, is God’s strategic vehicle for bringing into being his new creation.” 

Other sources for study:

Ⓒ 2019, Office of Race Relations, Christian Reformed Church in North America


Is this forum a synodical conversation or classis?  Exposing his teaching does not further it, but allows it to be seen for what it is.  Hiding it allows it to fester moreso that if it is exposed.  


My comment naming what I believe to be this pastor and his church and pointing to his teachings should not be removed from this forum, as it does not violate any of the community guidelines.  Those who want to know who the pastor is can follow the links in the comment stream at the Banner article on this action:

Eric, If Synod 2019 chose to not name the pastor, we're going to take the same approach on this site. And, with how search engines work, Synod's decision seems wise. Naming and linking to his site from this one would most definitely give it a tangible publicity boost (i.e. showing up higher in search results). That's a reality of how search engines determine ranking. You still may not agree with this approach, but I at least hope this explanation is helpful context.

No hard feelings, Tim.  :)  It probably doesn't make much difference either way.

If Synod was truly worried about Google hits and search engine algorithms, perhaps heresy hunting and all the publicity that went with it was not a good strategy for keeping the issue under the carpet.  It is also somewhat odd that the Network runs this article and then expresses concern over internet searches that will raise the visibility of objectionable material.  Do Network staff suppose that this article and the "cloak and dagger" approach will not spur a multitude of internet searches?  

Expose evil to the light and it will be made plain.  There are no real secrets anyway - the church just looks silly for playing coy.  

It seems evident that the intent was the opposite of what you stated. That is, to expose and address the issue and not "keep it under the carpet". But to do so without giving the individual's writings a publicity boost. Plus the 'who' isn't the main take-away, is it? Item 4 above should give us all pause - as I'm sure it did synod delegates - and suggests there are learnings here that go much beyond the identity of the individual and what that individual specifically wrote.

It's sorta like when a pastor, in a sermon, shares an anonymous story about someone. Our minds might go to the 'who' but we can learn from the story without knowing 'who'. In fact, if we spend the rest of the sermon focusing on 'who' it might be, we risk missing the point and its applicability to our own lives.

Hi Tim,

In context, my reference to "the issue" was to the pastor, his church and his writings.  That is clearly being kept under the carpet, so to speak.  Yet, the action of synod can only serve to increase their visibility.  That's the point.  It's silly to refer continually to one public individual, public organization, and public situation while dancing around who is being spoken about, particularly in the internet age.  It is specifically the teachings of this individual that sparked the action taken by synod, and as such those public teachings should be subject to scrutiny by lay persons within the church.  This pastor is a drop in the bucket of erroneous teaching and wickedness on the internet.  Allowing people to freely seek out and critique his writings will expose them for their error, not make them more acceptable.  People looking for this information to be believed find it readily already - this matter is for bit players.  The fact that there is reason to believe that more beyond this pastor and this church might be inclined to some of this error is all the more reason to shine light on his teachings - and his teachings are, as always, a mixture of truth and error.  Shielding people from those writings will not sharpen their discernment. Your attempted parallel regarding a pastor using an illustration in a sermon is apples and oranges.  It's not about the "who".  It's about the "what" that the who was teaching.  Besides, unless they seek permission, it is unethical for pastors to single out and name people to use as sermon illustrations.  

Consider this: What you are saying is that it is good for the church to point out heresy, but not heretical teachers ( or not *this* heretical teacher, as is the case).  How exactly does this square with passages such as Matt. 7:15 and 1 Tim. 1:20?  Synod declared kinism to be a heresy.  Until recently a pastor in our denomination was teaching heresy.  To not warn the church of the heretic who is likely speaking in familiar language given his background is to fail to properly warn the church and equip her to avoid false teaching.  Question: What other heretics has the church ever withheld identity of?  Does that fit the pattern of the historic apostolic church to withhold such information from her members?  

Thanks for clarifying your comment, Eric. You raise some good points, but I do think there are pros/cons to either approach. I'm trusting that the 192 folks from our churches weighed those in making their decision a few months ago.

Let's Discuss

We love your comments! Thank you for helping us uphold the Community Guidelines to make this an encouraging and respectful community for everyone.

Login or Register to Comment

We want to hear from you.

Connect to The Network and add your own question, blog, resource, or job.

Add Your Post